Having a day job leaves me with very little time to practice guitar, and I’ve noticed I squander time a lot during practice. As Steve Vai says,
Focus entirely on what you’re doing. The achievement that you’re going to get on the instrument is the reflection of how well you were able to focus on it. Leave everything behind and get into music meditation, keep your mind on it. If it wanders pull it back. You got to have the desire to do it, start developing it.
So, when I was chalking out my guitar practice routine, I wrote down some rules/guidelines for myself.
- Learn one and only one new thing per day from the technique section. So, each day, focus on learning either alternate picking/legato/tapping/sweep picking lick
- Review and practice all techniques, but the learning a new thing should be restricted to only on technique per day
- Figure out the target speed. When reviewing the technique, always up the ante. Increase the speed on the metronome by at least 2 BPM initially. As you build speed, increasing speed will slightly go down
- Focus on rhythm. Learn new chords. Practice chord changes. Practice chord soloing (Arpeggios), and soloing over chords
- Build your own repository. Take a lick, change its notes, note division, add/remove some notes. Write at least 5 ACCEPTABLE (licks that legit sound good) licks
- Improvise for 5 minutes over a backing track at the end of the session. Practice and implement what you just learned. Add something new of your own
- Master the Marty Friedman bend. Downpick like James Hatfield. Be graceful like Steve Vai. Pinch like Zakk Wylde. Shred like Yngwie!
- Before beginning practice, keep all the necessary material ready
- Don’t noodle around during practice. Be ruthless to yourself a bit
- Learn to sing. Learn how to write good songs
- Chops are good, but good music always wins. No one wants to see you practice scales. (Stole it from Bruce Lee Mani of TAAQ and Joe Satriani)
- Learning takes time. Be calm and patient. DON’T FRET (Well, figuratively!)
- Be persistent in practice. Always show FUCKIN’ up!
- 10 minutes a day is better than 60 minutes once a week
- Relax. Be yourself. Play a lot (Another Joe Satriani quote)
- Enjoy the practice session
- Listen to new music. Get out of your comfort zone
- Listen to VAN HALEN!
- Keep adding new things to this manifesto
I know, it looks audacious and difficult to follow, but having a set of guidelines will certainly help me be more focused on the practice.
What do you think? Would be happy to read the things that help you stay focused during practice. Let me know in the comments below.
Header Image Credits: Drew Patrick Miller